A £4million centre for people with disabilities has officially opened its doors, marking four years of work to turn the plans into a reality.
A hydro pool, events hall, training kitchen, sensory room and occupational health are up and running from the new Hartlepool Centre for Independent Living.
The complex stands on the site of the Havelock Centre in the Burbank area and houses health staff from Tees Esk & Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust, Thirteen housing group, home and telecare teams and a social disability social work office.
It is also home to Incontrol-able, which provides support to disabled people, and the In Good Hands Project, supporting to people with sight and hearing difficulties.
Several teams have transferred to the site from the old centre and the Warren Road facility at Oakesway, with training and meeting rooms, an ICT suite and a cafe available for use and many of the facilities available for public hire.
The centre was opened by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon, at a ceremony led by mayor Councillor Rob Cook, and followed by a speech by Hartlepool Borough Council’s chief executive Gill Alexander.
It is a major achievement for the council to be creating state-of-the-art facilities for local people at a time when we are facing significant financial pressures.Councillor Stephen Thomas
Anthony Andrews is an admin support worker at the centre.
The 38-year-old, who has cerebral palsy and uses crutches to walk, said; “When I came in for the first time, I thought it was brilliant.
“I really like the atmosphere.”
Michelle Price, 48, is regular visitor to the Handprint Art Studio, which has moved in from Surtees Street.
She said: “It’s lovely and a big space and we don’t have to rush round like we did before, because there were steps and this is much better.”
Irene Ryan, a community worker who oversees the art sessions, added: “We think it’s really fantastic and it’s lovely to see the artists using it and we can’t wait for future exhibitions.”
Councillor Stephen Thomas, chairman of the council’s Adult Services Committee, said: “It is a major achievement for the council to be creating state-of-the-art facilities for local people at a time when we are facing significant financial pressures.”
The council’s building design and construction section is the main contractor while Gus Robinson Developments carried out sub-contract work.